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Fatal Car Accidents: Advocating for Justice and Compensation in Wrongful Death Cases

Justice and compensation in wrongful death cases

The experience of losing someone is always difficult, but it is especially devastating when someone else’s negligence causes a loved one’s death. If you have lost a loved one in a fatal car accident, you are not alone.

In 2021, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported 39,508 fatal car accidents which resulted in 42,939 deaths. Sadly, these numbers represent more than just statistics. Every single fatality represents a precious life lost and a family changed forever.

After such a loss, surviving family members may want to seek justice for the wrongful death of their loved one. While no sum of money can ever make up for the life lost, pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit can aid in your family’s healing process and hold the negligent party responsible.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death in a car accident case results from the negligent or intentional actions of another driver. This could have happened because he or she was speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or otherwise violating traffic laws.

If an immediate family member of yours has passed away in a fatal car accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. Surviving family members or beneficiaries may be eligible to receive financial compensation. 

You can receive compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of companionship
  • Pain and suffering

People often use the terms “wrongful death claim” and “wrongful death lawsuit” interchangeably, but not all claims will go through the entire litigation phase all the way to a court decision.

If a settlement cannot be reached with the liable party or their insurance provider out of court, then the case becomes a lawsuit. The surviving family members or the executor of the estate therefore files a legal complaint in civil court. At trial, the judge or jury determines the defendant’s responsibility and the amount of compensation to award.

Key Insights for Families Pursuing Justice in Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death cases can be quite complex since every car accident is unique. Family members must educate themselves on the many factors that influence wrongful death cases.

Who can file a wrongful death claim following a fatal car accident?

In the US, wrongful death laws vary from state to state. In Massachusetts, for instance, a wrongful death claim may only be brought by the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate. Whereas anyone with a legal interest in the deceased person’s estate in New Hampshire. 

Not every family member is eligible to pursue a wrongful death case after a fatal accident. Depending on the state, the following individuals may pursue a wrongful death claim:

  • Surviving spouse of the deceased
  • Minor or adult children
  • Parents of the deceased
  • Siblings or grandparents of the deceased
  • Personal representative of the deceased’s estate

To find out whether you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim in your state, consult an experienced wrongful death lawyer. These lawyers can provide in-depth knowledge of wrongful death laws in the state where the accident took place.

Why is proving negligence important in wrongful death cases?

Negligence can be obvious in certain situations – in others, it can only be determined through a thorough investigation. Oftentimes, you will be required to prove that the defendant’s careless actions caused the fatal car accident.

To prove negligence in a wrongful death case, you need to show that:

  • The defendant had a legal responsibility to drive safely and avoid endangering other people
  • The defendant failed to fulfill his or her duty by behaving negligently, such as breaking traffic regulations or driving while intoxicated
  • The victim’s fatal injuries and death are directly related to the defendant’s negligent actions
  • The wrongful death has caused significant harm to the surviving family members, resulting in damages like financial losses and emotional distress

Gathering evidence can help strengthen your case and establish negligence. A skilled wrongful death attorney can help you collect witness testimonies, accident reports, medical records, and expert opinions.

How to deal with insurance companies in wrongful death cases

Unfortunately, when it comes to insurance adjusters, their loyalty lies with their company. Rather than considering your best interests, the adjusters are trained to minimize payouts. Thus, they may use strategies to weaken your claim and reduce their own responsibility.

Without the help of a knowledgeable car accident lawyer, you may find securing fair compensation a challenge. It is beneficial to hire an experienced attorney to advocate for your rights and seek justice for your family.

What impact can the statute of limitations have on wrongful death claims?

The statute of limitations is a legal time limit within which you are allowed to file a claim. This time frame varies from state to state. Most states have a two-year deadline starting from the date of the deceased’s death. However, the deadline to file a wrongful death claim in Massachusetts is 3 years from the date of death or date of discovery.

If you do not file your claim on time, this could have serious consequences. Failure to file a claim or initiate a wrongful death suit in time can result in the dismissal of your case. That means you will not be allowed to pursue compensation for the losses you and your family have suffered. 

Wrongful death lawyers have years of experience in filing claims and initiating lawsuits. Working with an attorney can help you ensure that your documents are submitted to the court within your state’s statute of limitations.

The Legal Process in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Pursuing a wrongful death case can be emotionally challenging for grieving families. Grief is a difficult emotion that can affect a person’s ability to think straight. That is why it is advisable to learn about the legal process before an accident happens.

Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit involves several steps:

  1. File a formal complaint: After gathering evidence and determining liability, the next step is to file a wrongful death complaint in the appropriate court. This document explains why the claim is made, who is involved, and what compensation is being requested.
  2. Begin the discovery phase: During the discovery phase, both parties exchange information and evidence relevant to the case. This may include subpoenas and depositions of witnesses. This process allows each side to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their opponent’s case.
  3. Engage in pre-trial motions and settlement negotiations: Before the trial starts, both sides might ask the court to decide on certain issues. Also, the parties might try to reach an agreement without going to trial through settlement talks.
  4. Go to trial: If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial. During the trial, each side presents evidence, calls witnesses, and makes arguments before a judge or jury. The judge or jury then determines whether the defendant is liable for the wrongful death and how much compensation to award.
  5. File for an appeal: After the trial, either party may choose to appeal the court’s final decision. If either side does not agree with the outcome of the case, they can ask a higher court, like the Supreme Court, to review it.

Dealing With a Wrongful Death Case? Let Us Fight for Your Family

If you are dealing with the loss of a family member due to a wrongful death, you deserve to be compensated. At Kiley Law Group, we understand the immense pain that accompanies such a loss and want to guide you through the legal process.

We understand that no two wrongful death cases are alike. That is why we take the time to listen to your story, truly understand your needs, and offer personalized guidance tailored to your circumstances. Our dedicated approach ensures that you receive the attention and support you deserve as we work through your case together.

Our compassionate legal team is here to support you every step of the way. Why not schedule a consultation with one of our experienced wrongful death lawyers? Call us at (888) 437-2584 to schedule a free consultation. Together, we can discuss your case and explore your legal options.